Skip to main content

Image Guide Ask Us

Guide Sections



This guide strives to aid researchers and students in finding images for coursework, creative work, teaching and/or publication.

It offers linked access to general resources that provide different types of images including: fine art, photographs, maps, 3D renderings and useful sound and video files which are available for Public Domain use, or under creative commons licensing. A glossary of related terms pertinent to aid understanding of open access sources is also provided. This guide utilizes a variety of university, gallery, museum and/or curated collections and governmental works.

Some sites are curated platforms formed from second party partnerships and usage permissions may vary. Remember to always check the site itself for attribution suggestions or copyright. Some of the sites here offer both complete open access sources and copyrighted images. Others allow users to download materials, for personal, non-commercial, educational, and research purposes only. It is the responsibility of the user to comply with copyright requirements.

Please be aware that you must follow the copyright laws of Canada, even if the image host is in another country. If you sign in to an account or establish an account, then the user rights outlined by the site must also be followed.

It is always good practice to make sure that the image is not protected by copyright. Most content on the web is copyrighted. If you wish to use a copyrighted image, you will need to seek permission from the copyright owner. Once you are ready to use an image, be sure to include image credit and source.

Fair Dealing refers to user rights and is part of the Copyright Act of Canada. It is an exception that allows for research, private, education, parody, satire, criticism, review and news reporting.

For explanations on properly citing online sources visit the Writing Centre website.

For more information on copyright and images, visit the Copyright Office website.

What is the difference between public domain and open license?

Both public domain and open licenses grant free access to the materials, but an open license recognizes a clear ownership of intellectual property. Public domain images are works in which the copyright has expired, or in which the creator has dedicated the work to the public domain and the copyright holder has waived copyright ownership in the work. Users are required to attribute works to the original authors when using openly licensed materials. 

Public Domain:  Copyright ownership is waived and the author gives away rights to the public to reproduce and distribute creative work. Giving attribution, when known, is still strongly encouraged within the expectations of academic integrity.

Open License:  (Creative Commons) Copyright ownership retained. The author grants broad rights to the public to reproduce and distribute creative work.

NGA devinci
Ginevra de'Benci by Leonardo da Vinci, oil on panel, 1474/1478, Credit: Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, NGA, open access image use.


Last modified on December 2, 2023 18:43